BROWNSBURG — Joe Sellmer says opening an indoor firing range here is about gun safety and giving local gun enthusiasts an opportunity to practice their skills.
For residents like Brian and Leah Eastridge, it’s not about free enterprise. It’s about the safety of their home, which would border the rear of the potential business.
Sellmer voluntarily met with residents at the Brownsburg Public Library this past Thursday to discuss his plan to put the firing range at 462 Southpoint Circle and to hear concerns from those who live near it.
“We’re going to try and make it incredibly safe,” Sellmer said to a filled room. “Our focus is safety training, preparing amateur gun owners, or people who’ve just got a permit to carry and are buying their first gun.”
Sellmer said the building is 10,000 square feet and would be designed by Shooting Ranges International which makes similar style ranges for military and FBI personnel.
“We’re going to have law enforcement certified trainers and National Rifle Association certified trainers,” he said, pointing out also that noise would not be an issue as there would be classrooms right outside the range.
The firing range, he said, would be about 25 yards. He said the business would not have caliber restrictions but would limit bullet type.
“We’re not allowing incendiary or armor piercing rounds,” he explained. “We will also have a retail space where we sell ammunition, accessories, and weapons. We will have weapons for rent only on the range.”
Residents opposed to the range weren’t doubting the indoor safety of the facility, but rather were concerned with what will go on outside.
“I think the majority of people are concerned with outside the facility, the parking lot,” said Austin Meadows resident Brian Eastridge, who can see the building from his backyard. “Even with the most trained people out there, that’s the biggest concern for all of the (home)owners.”
Sellmer said the parking lot will be monitored with cameras, but Brian’s wife, Leah, countered that it’s so dark back there, they needed floodlights for their back yard.
Sellmer said the gates to the back parking lot will be kept locked, so no one will have access to it.
“Gun owners do need places to practice,” said Leah, who was a 911 dispatcher for 14 years in Columbus, “but it’s just that it’s too close to a residential area and he cannot promise us that what goes on in the parking lot around the building is going to be monitored and safe.”
Indiana doesn’t have perimeters keeping shooting ranges a certain distance from residential areas.
The Eastridges moved to Brownsburg in October, but say they’re now regretting it. If the range goes in, they said it will be costly for them. Leah said she has already been told by their insurance agent that their insurance will go up, and from their real estate agent that the home price would go down.
“Our homeowners’ association is against it still,” she said.
The Eastridges say that if the range goes in, they’ll be putting their home up for sale.
Sellmer, a Hendricks County resident since 1988, said the meeting was held to gauge community response to such a facility. He said he had previously tried to open a range in Avon and “got a lot of support” for it there. He said that didn’t go forward as a deal on the place he was trying to purchase fell through.
“If it’s not going to be recommended (by the town of Brownsburg), then that’s going to make us think twice about filing,” Sellmer said. “We won’t make a decision until after we talk to (Brownsburg Planning Director) Todd Barker.
“I’ve looked at almost every square inch of C2 commercial property. This is the only location we’re looking at now. We wanted to find out the feel of the town. If it’s going to be a hostile environment, do we need to rethink things? Are there valid points we need to look at further?”
Ty Alan Van Wagner commented on the Hendricks County Flyer’s Facebook page that he thinks having the facility in Brownsburg is a great idea.
“Ranges are the perfect place to teach gun safety and responsibility,” he wrote. “Every gun owner should be familiar with their gun and practice with it.”
Rob Davidson of Avon wrote, “I would strongly support a local and well managed, reasonably priced shooting range.”
Austin Meadows homeowners are also concerned about their children’s safety as the area borders their backyards.
“I am for people being trained with guns, 100 million percent, but I’m just not OK with it being in my backyard,” said Amber Matheney, an Austin Meadows resident. “I have three boys who a lot of times, they play in those parking lots and now that won’t happen.”
For now, Sellmer has yet to decide if he wants to go through the zoning process. He said it would take about 90 to 120 days to get the range equipment installed and do a soft opening.
“The fastest timeline possible would be August,” he said.